For the past few weeks, parents, faculty, and other school staff have been adjusting to unfamiliar back to school guidelines. Some schools will continue virtual learning until further notice, while others have already been cleared to return to in-person school days.
In some areas in particular, such as Orange County, California, administrators are preparing for the OK from state officials to reopen their doors to students and staff. Orange County was recently taken off of California’s COVID-19 watch list, and schools in the County’s districts may be permitted to operate in-person as soon as early September.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released guidance to aid school administrators as they consider how to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, other school staff, families, and communities and to prepare for educating students this fall. The CDC highlights a list of crucial things that these administrators must adhere to in order to facilitate a safe learning environment:
Implement Mitigation Strategies
First, administrators should engage and encourage students to practice preventative behaviors. This will support the schools’ safe reopening and help them stay open. For example, schools that do reopen must implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies, such as social distancing, cloth face coverings, and proper hygiene. Since these are not part of typical school day procedures, administrators should communicate, educate, and reinforce how students, teachers, and other staff should practice these safety measures.
Create a Safe Environment
Administrators should ensure that the school is maintaining a healthy environment, such as cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces. If possible, staff should repurpose unused or underutilized school spaces to help increase classroom space and facilitate social distancing. Administrators and other school staff should be mindful of extracurricular activities that may not allow for proper social distancing. The participation of these activities may need to be limited or temporarily canceled.
Have a Plan
The CDC highly recommends that schools develop a proactive plan for when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. In the event of a positive case, administrators need to have a plan in place with the state and local health departments to conduct case tracing and prevent further spread of the virus. Schools should also create ongoing channels of communication with state and local health departments to stay updated on COVID-19 transmission and response in the local area. In turn, administrators must develop ways to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of monitoring for and responding to the symptoms of COVID-19 at home. You can visit the CDC’s website to read more about how administrators should prepare for a safe return to school this fall.
Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator
Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH), mediator, and arbitrator in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues.
Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.
Angela also is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California company that represents the gold standard in dispute resolution. She also owns her own law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in workplace and Title IX discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault investigations.
This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.